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Navigating the Political Path to Digital Diversity: Tijen Onaran’s Journey to Tech Inclusion

Fri 10 May 2024

Before her anticipated keynote session at Tech Show Frankfurt 2024, taking place at Messe Frankfurt on May 22-23, we had the privilege of speaking with entrepreneur, investor, and influential advocate for diversity, Tijen Onaran.

Onaran discussed her journey from politics to the digital landscape, gaining insights into fostering inclusions in the tech sector.

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Advocating Diversity from Politics to Tech

Onaran’s journey into the realm of diversity and inclusion was influenced significantly by her background in politics.

“I have often found myself as the sole presence in the room: the only woman, the only individual with a background of migration,” said Onaran.

It was precisely these circumstances that spurred Onaran to become an early advocate for highlighting and addressing the lack of diversity.

Drawing from her tenure in governmental institutions like the German Bundestag and the European Parliament, Onaran stressed that politics or the economy could not exist without women.

“I have learned how important it is for us women to stick together and support each other,” Onaran said, emphasising that thinking and acting politically can benefit multiple areas, whether it be founding a start-up or ‘going your own way’ in a company.

Her political insights highlighted the power of collective action and the significance of political thinking in navigating challenges, whether in entrepreneurship or corporate settings.

 Navigating Challenges with Purpose

In environments where diversity and inclusion may not be prioritised, Onaran navigates challenges by appealing to the shared values of CEOs and leveraging research demonstrating the link between diversity and business success.

“I mostly deal with CEOs who also have daughters. They are being told by their daughters that CEOs should work for companies that advocate for diversity rather than against it,” remarked Onaran, adding that studies have consistently shown companies with diverse setups are more successful.

Empowering Women in Digital

Driven by her vision to connect and empower women in the digital sector, Onaran founded Global Digital Women and ACI Consulting. These initiatives focus on driving structural change within organisations, tackling systemic issues rather than merely addressing symptoms. 

“I see the impact of both companies primarily in driving real diversity forward. We work on structural issues, true to the motto: ‘Don’t fix the women, fix the system,” said Onaran.

Through mentorship, sponsorship, and strategic consulting, Onaran’s endeavours intend to make tangible strides in advancing diversity in the tech industry.

Overcoming Challenges and Seizing Opportunities

Reflecting on the key challenges women face in tech, Tijen stressed the importance of mentorship and sponsorship. 

“However, regardless of the strength of your support system, in the end, you must step out of your comfort zone and take the leap yourself,” said Onaran, adding that empowerment begins with self-empowerment and the daily decision to take control of your life.

Onaran’s overarching advice? Become allies in the pursuit of diversity and inclusion.

“Diversity thrives on those who are not directly affected advocating for it! Especially in the tech and digital sectors, men are much needed!” declared Onaran, underscoring that true progress occurs when individuals from all backgrounds come together in support of diversity initiatives.

The Transformation Power of Inclusivity

As Onaran prepares to take the stage at Tech Show Frankfurt, she hopes to instil in attendees a profound understanding of the transformative power of diversity. Onaran emphasised that establishing inclusive teams can enhance effectiveness and also drive greater success for companies. 

“It is important to understand that Leaders have the power to set the tone, establish policies, and hold themselves accountable for fostering an inclusive organisational culture,” said Onaran.

Tijen Onaran’s journey serves as a beacon of inspiration for individuals and organisations alike, reminding us that true progress stems from collective action and unwavering dedication to building a more inclusive future for all.

Join us at Tech Show Frankfurt on 22-23 May as we embark on a transformative journey towards a more diverse and inclusive tech industry. 

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